Please note: this list is for chats taking place at a certain time on a certain day.
By Jill Gordon
Twitter’s popularity has soared recently, and for good reason. What started as a simple way to update friends about daily life has grown into a powerful tool for business, communication, and education. While many campuses are just picking up on the educational rewards possible with Twitter, there is still plenty of room to create new and exciting ways to use Twitter on campus. The following tips will help you know just how to get started using Twitter in academia, teach you etiquette, offer strategies and benefits, provide suggestions for specific ways to use Twitter, list tools to use with Twitter, and more.
If you are new to Twitter or could use a few more basic pointers, check out these tips.
There’s nothing worse than finding out you unwittingly committed a faux pas, so brush up on your Twitter etiquette here.
These strategies will help you use Twitter smarter.
Ideas for Instructors
Instructors can benefits from these Twitter tips.
Benefits for Students
These tips offer benefits for students, improving their learning environment.
Tips for the Class
Implement this tips in class for a new way of finding and sharing information.
Assignments Using Twitter
Try some of these assignments utilizing Twitter.
Here are suggestions for people and things to track on Twitter.
These tools can help your Twitter experience become easier and more dynamic.
Finding People in Academia to Follow
Take these suggestions for finding professors, students, and more on Twitter.
Great Twitter Tools for Use in Academia
The following tools lend themselves to the learning environment of academia.
by SHEA BENNETT
Twitter has rapidly become the ultimate platform for sharing and exchanging link content. For bloggers and brands, Twitter has surpassed Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious and Reddit, and is only rivaled by Facebook as the most effective and consistent way to build website traffic.
Better still, by building an engaged and relevantcommunity, marketers can continue to reap the benefits of that traffic on a daily basis. Almost by accident, Twitter provided us with a new and improved take on permissive marketing, which has allowed the network to leave many other social sharing websites in its dust.
It’s not all gravy, though – it’s easy to make mistakes that can be very costly indeed, leaving your tweet (and content) all but ignored. Continue making those errors, and Twitter will be about as beneficial to your brand and website as a badly-drawn flyer at your local community centre.
And while it’s perfectly acceptable to link to your own content, if you over-sell it,self-promote too much, or start to resemble an old-fashioned salesman (evenslightly), you’re very quickly going to be overlooked. Worse, likely it won’t be too long before you’re labelled as nothing more than a spammer.
When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, only two things really count when striving for the perfect tweet:
1. Think Like Your ReadersThis is a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s easily overlooked. For your tweet to be perfect, it needs to appeal most to your readers, to the majority of your network, and not to you.
Unless you’re a world-famous celebrity or brand with millions of devoted followers, adopting an attitude of ‘they’ll know what I mean’ or ‘everybody likes this!’ will almost always backfire.
You have to take the time to craft your tweet accurately and pleasingly, thus ensuring that it will be appeal to the highest number of readers.
2. Use Consistent Excellence To Stand Out From The CrowdTake a moment to peruse your Twitter feed. Refresh the page. Who stands out? Why?
Through prolonged Twitter use we all become tuned into paying attention to certain things in our timelines, notably the avatars and usernames of our favourite profiles. But a friend or valued associate sharing new content isn’t always enough to make us click on that link. We trust their judgement, and we have liked some of the things they’ve shared in the past, but this hasn’t turned us into a robot, automatically clicking on everything they tweet.
Conversely, there are many times when we suddenly notice the tweet of somebody we’ve only recently started following, or have previously not paid much attention to, because it was excellent. It ticked all of our boxes, and we read the tweet and clicked on that link.
This has an additional benefit in that because the tweet was so good, subconsciously we’ll make a little note about the user (particularly their name and avatar) and are more likely to notice them the next time they update. This attention will rise exponentially if their tweets maintain a consistent quality.
Likewise, if the quality of updates dips too sharply or wanders too far off-course, we’ll start to pay less attention, and in severe cases this can lead to a total tune-out and unfollowing. Hence, while being occasionally excellent is better than nothing, being consistently excellent is better than everything.
3. Sell The Headline (In A Non-Salesman Way)People need a really good reason to click on your link. Remember, at any given time (and in almost any Twitter client) the reader is faced with a number of choices to make – there might be as many as a dozen different tweets on their screen, and a lot more if they’re using columns or groups.
And things move fast – one or two refreshes later, and you could be long gone.
So, even if you’ve been consistently excellent for tweet after tweet and dear reader comes straight to you, your job is not done. They still need a reason to click, which means your copy has to sell that link.
The trick is you have to do this in a way that makes it seem like you’re doing something else. People don’t really like to think they’re being sold to, especially in social media.
Let’s call it unselling.
It goes without saying that ‘click here to buy my stuff’ should only be used if your intention is to be completely ironic or you don’t actually care about people visiting your site.
Learn the difference between selling the link and selling the content – the content is what will sell your product or idea, but nobody is going to care about any of that unless you’ve first sold them the reason to read it. You might have discovered the cure for cancer, but nobody is going to care if you link it next to ‘This is cool.’
The reason can be number of different things. Promises work extremely well, but only if you actually deliver. Lie to people enough and it doesn’t matter how good your headline copy is. Honesty is essentially your best policy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a fresh coat of paint with a little spin and reverse psychology.
It’s worth noting that superbly-written headline copy can often generate immediate retweets, even if it’s obvious the other party didn’t actually read the content, or because they trust and believe in you enough to make the (hopefully safe) assumption that you’re going to deliver the goods.
A word on linking to website content that is not your own – don’t be afraid to rewrite the headlines of others. Most of the time these are formatted to appease a single platform or marketplace, and won’t work as well on Twitter. Other times they just suck, plain and simple. If you can do it better, do it better. Nobody is going to object if you’re sending them solid traffic.
4. Use Correct (And Acceptable) PunctuationHere’s the thing: I’ve never met anybody who was offended or put off when they read something that paid attention to the correct use of punctuation. The opposite is not true – many people (enormous numbers if you use the internet as a gauge) feel that, rightly or wrongly, missing or an incorrect use of punctuation reflects poorly on the writer.
This is certainly true when it comes to first impressions. Like it or not, people will think less of you, and less of your opinion.
Thankfully, it’s easily corrected.
Use full stops and commas. Put your apostrophes in the right place. Use speech marks and parentheses.
Don’t end every sentence with an exclamation mark. A simple hyphen can often be the difference between a real word and one that doesn’t exist.
It can help to read your tweet out loud before you submit it. Are the pauses in the right place? We still need to breathe, even at 140 characters (or less).
Studies have shown that retweets contain more punctuation than normal tweets, even ignoring the colon that is automatically inserted by most Twitter clients (i.e., RT @).
Everything, that is, except semi-colons. I love the semi-colon, which is an underused and misunderstood little fellow at the best of times, but much as it pains me I feel it wise to leave them out of my tweets. It’s all about the little sacrifices.
5. Accept Nothing Less Than Flawless Grammar And Perfect SpellingIf you’re a bad speller, or struggle with grammar, consider writing your tweets in your favourite Word processor first. This might seem unnecessary, or even patronising, but let me just echo the sentiments above – people will judge you on how you write, and how you spell, and this will have a direct impact on whether your links are clicked and your updates retweeted.
A quick checklist for every tweet:
It’s different for the rest of us. Remember: be consistently excellent. You cannot afford to be anything less.
6. Observe The Magic Retweet NumberThe magic retweet number is the total number of characters you need to leave blank at the end of every tweet to ensure maximum retweetability.
Over time, I have given considerable thought to this figure and continue to refine and perfect it. Currently, the magic retweet number stands at twenty. Which means your copy, plus link, should ideally be 120 characters or less. This leaves 20 blank characters – plenty of room for others to retweet your message.
This is a rule that you will need to break from time to time. Certainly, you should not sacrifice a really quality piece of copy to squeeze your tweet under that ceiling. And Twitter’s internal retweet mechanism has somewhat decreased the need to be so mindful of retweet space.
But if you never any room for others to share your message with their network, chances are that most of the time they either won’t make the effort, or that perfect piece of copy you wrote will be bastardised and lost to the horror of txt spk. Guess what – as it’s a retweet, now everybody thinks you wrote it like that. Welcome to your legacy.
7. Shorten All Links With Bit.ly (And Nothing Else)This chart says it all.
If you’re using anything other than bit.ly to shorten your links – certainly if you’re using TinyURL – you’re actually hurting your brand. For a long time Bit.ly was Twitter’s URL shortener of choice and that recommendation, plus the stats and convenience that bit.ly provides, make it nothing less than essential for those looking to get their content re-shared.
Tip: the bit.ly sidebar is super-convenient.
ConclusionTwitter is supposed to be fun, and doing everything by the book, or in a very methodical or rule-driven way, can sometimes make it seem just a little bit too much like hard work.
However, if you really want to succeed on the network, then you’re going to have to put in that little bit of extra effort. If you want to be consistently excellent then I’m afraid you will have to work hard – at least until it becomes second-nature. Few people are naturally wonderful, certainly all of the time.
Trust me: it’s worth the sweat. Once you see the benefits that great headline copy, can’t miss unselling techniques and first-class grammar and punctuation can make to your Twitter presence and impact – as well as your website traffic, and sales – you’ll never again settle for anything less than the perfect tweet.
By David Shiffman, on January 17th, 2012
What conference organizers can do to promote tweeting (presented in approximate increasing order of difficulty and cost, which may vary depending on conference venue)
Create a twitter “hashtag” for the conference, and announce it early and often. Hashtags are a way to categorize tweets so that people can search for anyone talking about a particular subject. Because of strict character limits in tweets, a shorter hashtag is better. They are often abbreviations of the conference’s organizing society’s name, and some include the year. Examples include #AES11 (American Elasmobranch Society’s 2011 meeting), #IMCC2 (The second International Marine Conservation Congress), #SCIO12 (Science Online 2012) and #ICCB (International Congress for Conservation Biology) If the conference doesn’t decide on one and announce it, confused tweeters may create several conflicting ones, which makes it harder for interested members of the public to follow along. It’s also important that the hashtag be unique so that when people search for tweets from the conference, that’s all they find.
Pick a hashtag early and announce it often, on the conference registration website, in the conference program, and as part of the announcements in each conference session. I’ve seen a few conferences list their hashtag somewhere in the massive (sometimes hundreds of pages) conference program, but I have yet to see it promoted as heavily as it should be. Including it in the daily announcements that all conference participants hear each day would be a big step, and would only take 15-30 seconds, (i.e. say “Please tweet interesting things that you hear today, our twitter hastag is #EXAMPLE, and follow along with what’s happening in sessions you aren’t attending ).
Provide free Wireless for people who are tweeting the conference. You can’t tweet without wireless (smartphones are an obvious exception, but I prefer to tweet on a full keyboard laptop whenever possible). Conference center wireless is often extremely expensive, and the people most likely to tweet are students. Providing free wireless to people who are tweeting would help increase the number of people who are tweeting by reducing the cost. Many conferences already purchase a limited amount of wireless for official conference business- just give tweeters access to this. To reduce abuse if you’re paying by the megabyte, it is possible to make it so people accessing a particular wireless network can only access one website (for example, twitter), but I would discourage this because it prevents tweeters from including links to photos, scientific papers, or websites in their tweets.
Organize a conference tweet-up. Tweet-ups are social gatherings where twitter users meet in the “real world”. These are often held at fun restaurants or bars. Typically twitter users organize these themselves, but an official conference-organized tweet-up would help elevate the profile of these events.
Provide free wireless for everyone at the conference. This move, in addition to encouraging people to “Check out twitter hashtag #EXAMPLE to see what people are saying about the talks you may have missed” in the announcements, would go a long way to increasing the use of conference tweeting. Many people simply don’t know that the conference is being discussed on twitter.
Provide a “twitterfall” or another tweet aggregator. Twitterfalls are computer monitors or tv screens that display all the tweets with a particular hashtag in a slow rotation. They allow people who do not have computers to see what is being discussed on twitter. A few of these in central locations at the conference center would allow almost everyone to see the twitter conversation. A twitter aggregator on the conference website would allow those unfamiliar with twitter to see a list of tweets about the conference (you don’t actually need a twitter account to read what other people are saying on twitter, just to say something yourself, but many people are unfamiliar with the technology and avoid it because they aren’t familiar with it).
Provide free conference registration to people who tweet (or a select few). Many conferences provide free registration to students who volunteer to help set up rooms, run projectors, etc. Tweeting is a similar service to the conference, and similar rewards would help to encourage its use. It would be nice to provide this service to anyone who tweets, but not everyone does it at the same rate- many people only tweet a few times during a conference, a few tweet quite often and are pretty good at it. More and better tweets benefit the conference more, so this reward could be focused on those who provide more and better tweets. It could also be provided preferentially to people who have more followers- the average twitter user has approximately 100 followers, which would not be as useful to a conference whose goal is reaching the interested public as a twitter user with thousands of followers.
Provide free conference registration, travel, and lodging to those who tweet (or a select few). This is the ultimate statement that tweeting is valued and encouraged, though to my knowledge it has only happened once. It is also the most expensive option for a conference- travel, lodging and conference registration for a domestic conference can cost up to a thousand dollars, and even more for international conferences because of higher airfare costs. As with conference registration, conferences may want to focus on tweeters who can provide the greatest impact: people with lots of followers, a willingness to tweet throughout, a demonstrated ability to communicate science to the public.
Smaller conferences may not have the financial resources to enact all of these suggestions, but all are capable of announcing the conference hashtag and encouraging tweeting in the conference program and announcements and most are capable of at least providing free wireless to those who tweet. There are other strategies that conference organizers can utilize to promote tweeting, and I welcome suggestions in the comments section below, but using these basic ones would make a big difference.
How to tweet at conferences (in no particular order).
Tweeting a conference is relatively self-explanatory to experienced twitter users- basically, you tweet about what is being said in conference presentations, workshops, and plenaries as they are happening. You can also include links to scientific publications, photos or videos, the lab of the presenter, etc. However, some people do it much better than others, and there are many inexperienced twitter users interested in conference tweeting. Presented below is a general guide and my personal strategies. They are certainly not the only way to tweet conferences, but I’ve used them pretty effectively.
Who can tweet? Anyone! All you need is a twitter account (which is free) and either a laptop or smartphone. If you sign up for a twitter account for the first time right before a conference starts, however, you probably won’t have a whole lot of followers reading your tweets. Skillful conference tweeting will help you gain followers, but as stated above, tweeting for the purpose of educating the public about what’s going on at a conference is most effective when someone who has a lot of followers does it. I strongly recommend getting your account set up and starting to build a following long before the conference starts.
What talks should you tweet? This decision depends on your twitter personality, as well as the conference you are attending. As a general rule, though, I typically avoid tweeting talks that are overly technical, which members of the general public wouldn’t be interested in or would be confused by. That doesn’t mean I don’t go to those talks, of course, it just means I put my computer away for a little while. It should be pretty clear which talks the general public would find interesting- cool new discoveries, charismatic animals, climate change, etc, so you can use your best judgment. Other tweeters disagree with this strategy and enjoy translating complex technical talks into a format that the general public will understand and find interesting.
At larger conferences, there can be many talks taking place simultaneously (the most I’ve ever seen is around 35). It can be difficult to choose, and you’re almost certain to miss a few that you and your followers would find interesting and relevant. I make sure to look through all of the talks (not just the theme of the overall session, the actual list of talk titles) the day before so I can make a thorough schedule. This will often involve jumping between rooms in the middle of sessions. Despite my thorough planning, I still always seem to end up missing important talks every now and then. I’ve occasionally strategized with other tweeters to make sure that at least one of us was at each session, but this isn’t always possible.
What do I say in the tweets? Each tweet is strictly limited to 140 characters, and all conference tweets should include the conference hashtag (which further limits your available characters). I try to focus on the parts of the talk that the general public will find the most interesting, avoiding technical “methods”, jargon, and things like p-values and confidence intervals. I’ve found that the best things to tweet are often in the introduction- the first few minutes that presenters use to explain relevant background information about their field. Important results and conclusions also lend themselves well to tweets. Methods rarely make it into my tweets.
Should I ask permission to tweet about someone’s talk? From a legal perspective, you typically do not have to, particularly for conferences that are open to the public. However, asking permission builds goodwill and is a nice thing to do. Some scientists would prefer to know if they’re “on the record” before choosing what to say, and others may be leery of their exciting discovery being distributed widely before it’s been officially published in their name (which does not apply to statements from the introduction section of the talk). I’ve actually only had one person ever ask me to not tweet about their talk, and that person was using their talk to heavily criticize the government agency they worked for. Most people I’ve asked have been thrilled that their work is reaching a broader audience. If it’s not possible to ask them before the talk starts (i.e. if you are jumping around between sessions), I recommend that you take notes on the talk and ask later before tweeting it.
How do I compress a scientific talk into 140 characters? This is an art, and you’ll get better with practice. You obviously can’t transcribe word-for-word everything that the presenters are saying. I also think it is very important that every tweet represents a stand-alone thought; people shouldn’t have to track down your previous tweets to understand what you’re talking about (which means that proper nouns, like the name of the animal species being discussed, should be in each tweet, not just the first one in a series). A series of tweets from the same talk will be related, but if you have to read them all to understand any of them, you’re not compressing the information as effectively as you could be. It’s also worth noting that if you want to give your followers the opportunity to “re-tweet” your tweets, or quote them and add questions or commentary, you should avoid using your all 140 characters.
What if I tweet something that is incorrect? All science communicators and educators should strive to accurately relay information. However, mistakes happen. Sometimes the tweeter may mishear something that the presenter said. Sometimes the presenter may misspeak, or may not have all of the available information. The accuracy of a few of my conference tweets have been criticized by scientists who follow me, and I’ve always tried to quickly determine the truth (and, if necessary, issue a correction tweet). I’ve only ever had a presenter correct my tweets once.
Why should I tweet about conferences? There are a lot of benefits to conference tweeting. It benefits your field and your colleagues by informing the outside world about important scientific discoveries and conservation challenges. It improves your ability to translate complex scientific ideas into a form that the general public (and policy makers) can understand, a skill that is vitally important and too few scientists have. It will increase your online presence, which can be a great professional advantage depending on your field (my online presence is directly responsible for several media interviews and professional leadership opportunities, and I have a social media heading on my CV). It’s a great way to meet important people at conferences (tweeting has resulted in me being introduced to many society leaders, all of whom were very pleased by the outreach efforts). Last but certainly not least, if scientific societies adopt the recommendations I’ve suggested above, tweeting can be a way to save money when attending conferences (few students are so well-off financially that saving $200 on conference registration wouldn’t be a cause for celebration).
Is there any downside to tweeting? The biggest downside is that it takes a significant amount of time and energy. In addition to the time spent actually tweeting, it can be a major pain to find an electrical outlet at a conference center where you can charge your laptop or smartphone (doubly so at international conferences where you need to find an outlet that can fit your electricity converter). I’ve only had one person ever tell me to put my computer away during a talk because it appeared that I was being rude, but he quickly apologized when I explained what I was doing.
Instructional Service's Twitter Accounts:
Langley District Twitter Accounts:
Langley School District: @LangleySchools
Langley Pro-D: @thinklangley
Suzanne Hoffman: @SAHoffman
Gord Stewart: @gord_stewart
Many schools have twitter accounts. Search for your school on Twitter and then click follow.
The difference between seeing Twitter as a waste of time or as a powerful new community amplifier depends entirely on how you look at it – on knowing how to look at it.